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Youth Without Youth

Youth Without Youth

Genders: Fantasy, Drama, History

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Writer: Mircea Eliade (novel), Francis Ford Coppola

Actors: Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz, André Hennicke

Year: 2007
Run time: 124min
IMDB score: 6.3
Updated: 3 years ago

Movie infomation

Movie name: Youth Without Youth

Genders: Fantasy, Drama, History

Imdb Score: 6.3

Runtime: 124min

Released: 26 Oct 2007

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Writer: Mircea Eliade (novel), Francis Ford Coppola

Actors: Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz, André Hennicke

Box Office: $0.1M

Company: Sony Pictures Classics


Imdb Link

Youth Without Youth Available Subtitles

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Cinamtic Brilliance

9/10 I was surprised and fortunate to find a movie of this caliber by chance, since I'd never heard of the release; at first, I actually thought it was an old movie, one that I hadn't seen.

I' am bewildered and frankly frightened by the obscene IMDb rating of "6.6" - the current evaluation of this movie, by the audiences frequenting these boards - a prime example of the fact that taste is a controversial matter.

Albeit, this movie isn't for everyone; if you regard the world as being a solved puzzle, if you've figured it all out; what it's all about, if nothing mystifies or captivates your senses and entelechy, if you are utterly unenchanted by the magical and mysterious nature of reality, this movie will be a huge disappointment for you. Please don't watch it, since it's not made for you, and hence, you will distort the perception of the movie. In-fact, if any of the latter apply, don't watch this movie, it will only bring grieve.

The movie is stunning in its appearance, the characters are believable, the story is uncompromising, relentless, of an epic nature, and the atmosphere is hypnotic and enchanting.

I was sucked into the world of this strange professor.

I only regard the ending as being less then perfect; however, such movies are never easy to end.

An essential and unique experience.

3 years ago

Searching the eternal youth in Romania

9/10 It's been a while since I have written anything for IMDb. "Youth Without Youth" is not only a very personal approach to a barely known novella by Mircea Eliade, but also a homage to Romanian culture and civilization. I felt really good watching a legendary filmmaker like Coppola before the special screening (in Bucharest), walking on the stage and thanking sincerely to the Romanian cast and crew, and in the end, thanking all of us "for Mircea Eliade". I read Eliade's novella some months ago, and I found it difficult and "anti-cinematic", unlike "La tiganci" or other texts of his. "Youth" is, as I saw it, a meditation on time and the relation between human memory and identity. Eliade has been concerned with the theme of "la vita est sueno" (life is dream) for a long time, and his fiction shows it. Coppola also has been preoccupied with time, dreams and memory in his late films like "Peggy Sue", "Dracula" and "Jack". It might seem strange and paradoxical, but beyond the horror cliches and the gory make-ups, one can see lots of formal similarities in "Dracula" and "Youth...". The Italian American director is definitely bound to European Romanticism, and he tried to infuse a lot of new symbols (the mirror, the moon on the bluish night sky, the skull etc) to an already symbol-heavy-loaded narrative. Tim Roth is the ideal choice for the central character (old Dominic Matei that grows young after a lightning stroke). The rest of the numerous cast is composed mainly of Romanian actors, most of which are famous in our country. Iures is known for the international public also, and handles his role elegantly, as usual. Maria Lara is a Romanian-born German actress, playing the role of Dominic Matei's lady friend and lover. The relationship between Dominic and Laura is beautifully developed by Coppola's rewriting of the initial novella. Near the end of the film, there is a moment (shot in Malta) where Dominic decides to break away from Laura, because of the dreadful effects of his supernatural youth on her physical condition. Both actors are impressive in this delicate scene.

This film was, all in all, a pleasant surprise for me. I was expecting a more Hollywood-ish speculative and commercial-oriented style. Anyway, I personally (still) think the D.P. and the photographic department in general was overwhelmed by the magnitude of this project. Coppola should of thought more deeply about his choice, because Mihai Malaimare Jr. (the D.P.) and digital imagery was simply not enough ! It took over 2 years to complete this film anyway, so why didn't he use film instead of digital mediums? Was money really a problem here? Maybe Roth asked for a big fee, I don't know. This film won't be appreciated by a wide audience, because Eliade's literature is very special and restrictive (you need to fancy Romanian folklore and oriental philosophies in order to get into this). In fact, Eliade's novella was clearly inspired (as the main title shows) by one of the most beautiful and profound fairy-tales ever: "Tinerete fara batranete si viata fara de moarte" (hard to translate into English, but it might sound like "Eternal youth and life without death"). Even if you are not Romanian, you should check it out! It will change the way you feel about time and life, the way Eliade changed Coppola from an old mainstream Hollywood director into an arty European film experimenter.

3 years ago

Born again Coppola !

9/10 Don't pay too much attention to the press resume for this film. It has nothing to do with Nazis and American agents. Although they do appear in the film they are not central to its plot, and this is certainly not a spy drama. If this is what you are expecting you risk being severely disappointed. This film will never be a box office smash hit.

No, this is a film which explores the concepts and possibilities of Reincarnation, Karma, Mysticism, Spirituality, and Time. What if time is not linear? What if reincarnation is real? What if human potential could be exponentially enhanced, scientifically? If like me, you are fascinated by these esoteric subjects anyway, and you can forgive the quirks such as "upside down" camera shots, and occasional weak dialogue, then I suspect that you will love this film. It tackles these timeless questions, whilst always managing to be engaging, and entertaining - and it is beautifully shot. At no time did I feel that the film lacked pace or interest.

Bruno Ganz is becoming one of my favourite actors. After Vitus, he turns in another great performance here as the doctor who treats Dominic (Tim Roth) after he has been struck by lightening. A brilliant academic who has sacrificed his entire life to the study of the origin of languages, Dominic knows that, at the age of 70, he will now die without achieving his goal, his life purpose. The lightening bolt burns him to a crisp, but instead of killing him instantly, it gives him a new lease of life, regained youth, super-human brainpower and thus a second chance to complete his life's work.

He also regains the love of his life, now reincarnated as Veronica. Under his power, Veronica regresses back through the ages, each time speaking an older language, until, as she nears the origin, and his work nears completion, he realises that he can have his life's desire, but first there is a test, and a choice to be made.

This fascinating film which Coppola wrote, directed and produced is well constructed and satisfying. It really made me think, and hours after the end, the pennies were still dropping.

In what it sets out to do, for me, it is a great success.

3 years ago

An interesting failure

5/10 Some moviegoers, no doubt, will call Youth without Youth "deep", "exquisite", a "metaphysical experience", mentioning Hinduism, Buddhism and divine epiphanies; others will dismiss it in two lines as "unwatchable crap". I will do neither.

To give you an idea, this feels like a movie co-directed by a burn-out David Lynch and a clinically depressed Terry Gilliam, based on a book co-written by a drunk Jorge Luis Borges and Philip K. Dick on drugs. Get the picture?

This was a movie I wanted to like. The plot sounded like a bittersweet tale dealing with themes such as time and loss. Unfortunately, the result is uneven to say the least: both too ambitious for its own good and too chaotic.

Romania, 1938. Aging language scholar Dominic (Tim Roth) is struck by a lighting, and inexplicably, as he is cured by a helpful doctor (Bruno Ganz), he becomes younger and is 35 again. Besides, now he has an incredible memory and his knowledge about languages is astounding. The Nazis soon find out about him, and Dominic escapes in Switzerland, where he is followed and has to confront a Nazi scientist.

In the second half - which feels like a different movie - Dominic meets Veronica (Alexandra Maria Lara), identical to Laura (I like the nod to Italian poet Petrarca here - see the introductory dream, which is basically a "triumph of the Death"), the woman he loved (and lost) sixty years before. Veronica too is struck by a lighting (what about staying at home during storms?), and she begins to experience visions from her previous lives - she talks and behaves like a Princess from ancient India, then like a woman from Egypt... Dominic is able to understand her, and uses her mystical experiences for his study about the origin of languages.

Add to this : - some weird powers acquired by Dominic, who can read books by simply staring at them, and at a certain point is also able to control guns, like a low-rent Magneto; - a cameo appearance by a furry-fingered creature holding a skull- Shiva, apparently (?); - an incomprehensible subplot about a "double", played by Roth as a mix between Gollum/Smeagol of The Lord of the Rings (Coppola even uses the same camera tricks as Jackson during the "psycho" conversations) and Adolf Hitler. No kidding.

I like Roth (The legend of 1900, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead), but his performance here is uneven. As the quiet, decent Dominic he is nicely understated. He is less solid as the already mentioned "double" - I suspect that Roth too did not understand what the hell he was supposed to play: an angel or a demon, Id or cold reason, or maybe a Jungian shadow? Beats me - and Roth too, I guess.

Luminous Alexandra Maria Lara is remarkable in a challenging and somehow thankless role (after a brief appearance, she disappears from the movie for the whole first half).

Although I have not read the novel by Mircea Eliade, I suspect two things: first, that it could be interesting, and make more sense than the movie; second, that the adaptation suffers from what is called "the slideshow effect": all the best bits from the book glued together with little regards for pacing (which here is totally off) and clarity.

If you like movies which answer neatly all questions, then avoid this one, or you'll want to murder someone after you leave the theater. If you enjoy incomprehensible movies with a weird fantasy twist and a bittersweet atmosphere, you might like Youth Without Youth.

3 years ago

A heavy and complex movie with deep philosophical implications

9/10 I was flabbergasted to see that a lot of the comments for this film were negative. The fact that the movie is not of a commercial nature doesn't make it bad, it just makes it less accessible. In this manner, it is just as bad for movies as a science paper is for publications.

Anyway, the film is based on a book of Romanian Mircea Eliade, one that I didn't read. Actually, I didn't read most of Eliade's work for the very reasons people bad mouthed this film. Then I entered adolescence :-P.

The film, though, is a resounding success to me. Not only that it is well done, but at the end of it, it let me wanting to understand more and to read the book. Maybe I will one of these days. As the film is impossible to summarize here, I will get to a quick conclusion.

Bottom line: a heavy feeling film, with a complex script and a lot of philosophical ideas of Eliade's scattered through the story; also some of his personal obsessions: orientalism and the loss of the love of his life. I personally think it was a great movie, but it became a bit confused at the end.

3 years ago